What is Brittle Diabetes?

Brittle diabetes is a term used by doctors to describe “hard-to-control” diabetes. It is also called labile diabetes, which means unstable or easily altered. A person who has brittle diabetes experiences swings in blood glucose levels. The variation in blood sugar levels quickly moves from very low (hypoglycemic) to very high (hyperglycemic).

This condition may threaten someone’s health, and when it complicates, it may cause death. It is unpredictable, and treatment is lengthy. And since it’s fatal, it requires long-winded hospitalizations.

Brittle diabetes is often associated with type 1 diabetes. It is a chronic type of diabetes in which insulins are destroyed, reducing the amount of glucose being produced for our body’s energy needs. If compared with people who have type 2 diabetes, the risk is low. Proper exercise, losing weight, and following a strict diet will help minimize and manage the effects of the disease. If these practices are not enough, taking medications or insulin therapy is a must.

Brittle Diabetes Causes and Symptoms

For someone who has diabetes, managing it well is of utmost importance.

Here are some of the reasons or causes of brittle diabetes:

  1. Strict compliance to managing the disease is lacking, such as taking medication at the right time or as scheduled. Testing your blood sugar levels is also a must as this tracks the range of illness to your body.
  2. Celiac disease. An immune disease that may cause your small intestines to damage once gluten is consumed.
  3. Experiencing emotional and physical tension, or what we call stress.
  4. Eating disorder. Too much glucose intake escalates your blood sugar levels, thus, welcoming diabetes in your system.
  5. A type of disease in which the stomach isn’t capable to digest or empty itself of food on its own.
  6. Insulin sensitivity

There are still more that explain the main causes of brittle diabetes. The best way to do is to visit your doctor and undergo regular check-ups. Meanwhile, its symptoms include:

  • Nervousness or in a state of anxiety.
  • Chills, fever, sweating
  • Clammy skin
  • Feeling shaky
  • Easily gets irritated
  • Nausea, dizziness, and lightheadedness
  • Headache and vertigo
  • Seizures (sometimes fatal)
  • Frequent unconsciousness
  • Blurred vision or disturbance in your eyesight
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Body weakness
  • Excessive thirst and increased urination
  • Extreme fatigue


Living with brittle diabetes can be very tedious. Aside from regular check-ups and strict monitoring, admission to hospitals is most likely to happen oftentimes. Here are the treatments that you will surely receive from your healthcare provider.

  • Insulin pump – This treatment works best in controlling brittle diabetes. It is a small machine with a needle inserted under your skin. You will carry this 24 hours a day to help you get a steady level of insulin that your body needs.
  • Pancreas transplant – This is effective only if your pancreas isn’t producing insulin as it should be. Your pancreas will be replaced by a healthy pancreas from a deceased donor.
  • Regular blood testing – Aside from the upper mentioned treatments, a patient should follow continuous blood monitoring. A sensor is placed under your skin to measure your blood glucose level.
  • Strict compliance with nutrition guidelines
  • Regular exercise
  • Follow medication schedule

Brittle diabetes is a serious disease. Stay in contact with your doctor and seek medical assistance immediately should you experience the symptoms mentioned above. Health is wealth. Make sure to follow regular health protocols and stay safeguarded.

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.